EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Coughlin isn't ready to relax now that the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants have reached the midpoint of the season with a 6-2 record and a 2½-game lead in the NFC East.
The truth is the Giants have a lot to worry about. Forget their current four-game winning streak. If anyone doesn't believe that, all they have to do is watch Sunday's 29-24 win over the Cowboys in Dallas.
It was a typical game for the Giants.
Instead of rallying for a win, they squandered an early 23-point lead and survived a Tony Romo-led comeback by the length of a Dez Bryant finger, the one that landed out of bounds with 10 seconds to play to nullify a potential game-winning touchdown.
It was that close, which is the story this season.
While the Giants were impressive in beating Carolina and San Francisco, they rallied from 14-point deficits against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, needed a 77-yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Victor Cruz with 73 seconds to go to edge Washington and escaped Dallas by the skin on Bryant's hand.
If that isn't convincing enough, let's remember last season. New York went 6-2 in the first half and then opened the second half with losses to San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Green Bay. The team needed a six-game winning streak at the end of the season to win their second Super Bowl in five seasons.
Coughlin knows things aren't going to get any easier with Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Washington, New Orleans, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia on tap down the stretch.
"It's a huge plus to be where we are," Coughlin said. "We've battled back from being 0-2 in the division to being 2-2 in the division. We know how difficult this league is. We know how difficult these games are that we play and our divisional opponents play week in, week out. It's not easy to win in this league. There is tremendous parity.
"We have to keep going. We have a really tough opponent (Steelers) coming in this week. It just gives you another something to improve on."
The problems are obvious. The offense is settling for too many field goals - five against Dallas - and the running game has been inconsistent. The defense has given up a few too many big plays and has not generated a consistent pass rush.
Safety Stevie Brown, who had two interceptions and a fumble recovery Sunday, said the players realize they aren't hitting on all cylinders.
"We've got to keep working," Brown said. "We've got to stick with the fundamentals that have got us to 6-2 and we've got to just keep coming out every game with the hunger that we still have something to prove and that we're trying to get better every single week.
"If we continue to do that, we should be fine."
Coughlin was a little upset when asked about last year's losing streak, a run that was marked by three tough losses to very good teams.
"There is nobody looking at this as anything other than what it is," he said. "We're very happy to be 6-2. We have a long way to go. We have a lot of work to do to beat a team (Pittsburgh) that we want to beat. While it is nice to put that number up there at this point in time, what is significant is how we continue to grow and grow."
The only other issue Coughlin had with the game was the final 10 seconds after a review overturned Bryant's catch, which had been ruled a touchdown on the field. The Cowboys managed to get off three more plays and Coughlin wondered aloud how that could have happened.
"The longest 10 seconds I have ever been around," Coughlin said. "Three plays in 10 seconds, two of which went to the end zone. It seems a little much to me and we'll have to see if we can get some kind of response from the league."
Coughlin does not believe that he could get and execute three plays in 10 seconds.
NOTES: Coughlin had no further information on the hamstring injury suffered by middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, the hamstring injury sustained by linebacker Keith Rivers or the ankle injury suffered by tight end Bear Pascoe. .... Coughlin gave his players off Monday so they could make preparations at home to handle Hurricane Sandy. The coach is adjusting the team's schedule for this week, treating Sunday's game against the Steelers like a Monday night game. That means they will have to worker a little harder the rest of the week. ... Brown on waiting for the hurricane: "It's not fun. I'll tell you that. I'm from the Midwest. We don't have hurricanes, so this is all new to me. I have friends in the city and one of them is from Miami and she was like, 'This is nothing, Stevie. Don't even worry.' I'm just like I don't know. This isn't what I like."
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